BAC Bike and Barge - Netherlands 2014
April 17-18 - Amsterdam Walking Tour
Thursday breakfast started at 8:30, a reasonable time. We decided to go on Rick Steves city walk. It started at the central train station and ended at the Rijksmuseum. Before starting the walk we detoured to shop for some items that we left at home. We walked past the Stock Exchange, the Royal Palace, the New Church, the National Monument and into the De Papegaal Hidden Church. At the Amsterdam Museum, we walked through the courtyard and the Civic Guard Gallery. Next it was into Begijnhof, a quiet courtyard lined with houses that have sheltered women since 1346. In the courtyard were an English Reformed Church, a Catholic Church and the oldest house in Amsterdam (1477). Our next stop was at Spui Square where we had lunch at Cafe Esprit in its outdoor patio.
Mint Tower was next and then a huge flower market(Bloemenmatkt). At Koningsplein we watched people buying raw herring from a popular outdoor food stand. Then we peered through the windows of a smartshop where it sells drugs, many of them illegal at home and not all of them harmless. Then it was on to the Rijksmuseum where we spent a couple of hours looking at paintings of the Dutch masters along with several hundred other art lovers. The paintings were spectacular but there were a lot of rude photographers who stood in front of the paintings blocking others.
When we left the museum, we hopped onto a tram that took us to the train station. We walked back to our hotel from there.
Dinner was at a tapas restaurant where we ordered too much good food. Then it was bed time.
On Friday morning we had the same breakfast that we had on Thursday. We met some of the other guests who were going on another bike and barge trip. Their trip is a week longer than ours.
Our major visit today was at Anne Frank's house. When we got there, the line was about two hours long. After inching along for about an hour, a nicely dressed man approached us and started asking Ann questions about how long we were in line and how we were holding up. He asked us to follow him and he would get us in at the special entrance. Ann asked him incredulously if he could that and he said yes, he was the boss. It turns out that he was Ronald Leopold, the Executive Director of the Anne Frank House and a very nice person. Sometimes getting older has its advantage.
The tour of the house was both fascinating and emotional. How two families could live and survive in close quarters for as long as they did was remarkable. And what happened to them was tragic.
Walking back to our room, we stopped at Cafe 't Smalle for salads and drinks. A light rain had started so we ate inside at the bar. This was the best place to sit because we could watch all of the action going on behind the bar including a cute little 4-year-old girl washing and drying glasses. She could barley see over the bar.
We walked back to our room for a rest.
Dinner was at Winkel where we had three appetizers and the best apple pie/cake in Amsterdam. It had real whipped cream, too.
The weather today turned cold and windy. We also had a few rain showers. We expect variable weather on our cruise which starts tomorrow afternoon.